On Monday, some of the Democrats’ most visible and influential leaders gathered in Berryville, VA to unveil what they claimed would be the “new” agenda for the party. Make no mistake: there is nothing new in the policy- unless you consider a formal embrace of long-standing liberal policies as a new development.
The ‘agenda’ is a hodge-podge of idealistic clichés (“taking on corporate power”), destructive pandering to lower-class Bernie-crats (“a massive minimum wage hike”), and a complete evasion of several pressing issues (immigration, real economic policy, trade.).
Instead of details and specifics, the Left's leadership made numerous fawning references to beloved liberal leaders past (the new agenda is called the “Better Deal,” a reference to FDR’s New Deal, which established many maligned Democratic policies which persist today). Liberal “icon” Elizabeth Warren’s increasingly prominent role in the party was further cemented Monday, both through her presence on the podium and the hard-left rhetoric that other speakers affirmed. It was a sign that the New Democrats are hitching their wagon to the youthful, uber-liberal faction of the party, perhaps shunning more traditional Democrats once and for all.
Chuck Schumer went so far as to declare capitalism fundamentally broken, a comment that Lenin and Trotsky would have smiled upon:
“Old-fashioned capitalism has broken down, to the detriment of the consumer,” the Democratic Senate leader said.
Schumer spoke of the party’s “hard look in the mirror” upon losing the latest election, and vowed that the new agenda would represent one that “any Democrat can run on- whether the candidate is in a deep red state or bright blue city.” This does not, as one may expect, mean that the new agenda is more centrist. The extent of the agenda’s versatility is essentially a lack of policy detail. The fewer details revealed about what the liberal agenda actually is, the more universal it becomes in its application.
But isn’t this the same vagueness that was a primary reason that the Democratic party is in its current predicament?
Yes, it is. What’s the saying? A leopard can’t change its spots?
Well, it appears that a Democrat cannot change its policies.
The extent of economic policy discussed in Berryville included antitrust rhetoric (big Airlines, the ire of every American), the assertion that the capitalist system is broken (no solution to this broken system was proposed), the raising of national minimum wage to $15 (keep the constituents poor, and they’ll stay Democrat), and vague references to a retraining program for the unemployed.
Seriously that was the extent of the agenda about which Chuck Schumer said this:
“The number one thing we did wrong was not to present a strong, bold economic agenda to working Americans so they’re hope for the future might return.”
If the above summary is what Schumer considers a “bold economic agenda,” then the party is even further gone than most of us suspected. It’s clear that the leadership of the left is content to dwell in its echo chamber of extremist policy (by American standards).
There is no indication that the party responsible for eight years of policy which resulted in little to no economic turnaround, crushing regulatory policy in the name of climate change, patchwork foreign policy, and unprecedented division within America has learned anything at all. Quite the opposite is true.
The party is doubling down on the policies- or lack thereof- that allowed for Donald Trump’s election.
Lamented by most for their cancerous expansion of government, the Berryville crew maintained instead that their constituents wanted to see them embrace a more ambitious approach to growing big government:
“For a long time the Democratic Party has been pretty timid about the role of government,” said Tamara Draut, a vice president of policy and research at the liberal think tank Demos. “It’s a good thing to see them leaning in to it.”
Because, the biggest complaint most have with the Democratic party isn’t policy vagueness, shadiness in their accounting practices, or rampant cronyism resulting in a lack of thought diversity- it’s their aversion to expanding the role of government.
The tone-deafness of this whole new “Better Deal,” a title which some have envisioned on the side of a Papa John’s box, is truly astounding.
Ask the average American what they deem to be the most pressing issues. How many are going to cite anti-trust law, minimum wage, Medicare drug price negotiation, and combating a shrinking federal government among their top five?
The non-policy tactics of the party appear to be unchanged as well. As Hillary Clinton proved, it takes more than a female with a checkered political past to win an election. Yet, Warren and even Maxine Waters- a black woman! – continue to be floated as serious contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
But, be assured, this is a new policy. Just ask a Democratic think-tanker:
“There’s something in there for all wings of the party, from Warner to Sanders,” said a spokesman for Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank.
This may be true, but it is also an alarming sign of the times for the Democratic party. This agenda, short on substantive detail that can be used to combat the policies of Trump-era conservatives but long on hard-left rhetoric, is representative of the party’s leadership spectrum.
Which is to say that the “Better Deal” (Better Ingredients, Papa John’s) is the perfect policy map for the monolith that Democrats have become. Look for the “Better Deal” in 2020, brought to a local park near you by Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren and Maxine “Socialize It” Waters.
Labeling oneself an independent has never been more appealing.